The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka Read Online (FREE)
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with Adriana Campoy
HIS UNCLE JONATHAN had been gone only a couple of days when Max tried on a pair of the old man’s trousers. The strange idea came into his mind when he was petting the cat, and he didn’t question it. The trousers fit him well, as did the khaki work shirt and suspenders that had been hanging in the closet next to them. They were old fashioned, but they suited the house, in which everything hearkened back to a lost age. A suitable suit, Max thought, smiling at his own joke and feeling somehow more at home now, like a hermit crab in a new shell. Elmer, his uncle’s ancient, tailless cat, regarded him from the doorway with an air of approval, as if borrowing the clothing had been the cat’s idea all along.
The invitation to housesit had come in the form of a letter, posted, apparently, when the old man was already leaving, because Max had found the house empty, with a note on the kitchen counter that read, “Make yourself at home.” The invitation had been as vague about the date of his uncle’s return as it had been about his destination. That also suited Max well enough, since his lease had run out on the flat he had been renting above Watson’s Drug Store in the Plaza, and he was temporarily homeless. Most of his own stuff was in a closet-sized storage unit that cost him forty dollars a month, a sad comment on the state of his worldly goods. It occurred to him impulsively that he would quit paying the storage bill and simply let the stuff go. If he was going to make himself at home, he might as well do a thorough job of it.
God bless the generosity of uncles, Max muttered, reaching for the pull-cord to the ceiling lamp, waving his hand around before looking up and discovering that there was no pull-cord, which confounded him for a moment, because he had the absolute idea in his mind that there should be, and that he had reached for a pull cord a thousand times over the years. The certainty faded into curiosity. He had never, after all, lived in a house old enough to have such an item as a pull cord for a ceiling lamp.
He shut off the wall switch and went out into the living room, where he found Elmer holding an immense dead lizard. If it was a fresh kill, it had been a quick one, given that Elmer had just minutes ago been lounging in the bedroom doorway. “That’ll make you skinny,” Max warned him. “There’s nothing nourishing in a reptile.” In the dim light Elmer could easily be mistaken for a bobcat, and he pretty much had to cram himself through the cat door when he came and went. How he had hauled the saurian back in through the door was a mystery. The battle must have resembled a scene in a Godzilla movie. Dragging the lizard, Elmer walked along the edge of the room toward the kitchen where he vanished into the shadows at the edge of a bookcase, glancing back momentarily, his eyes glowing green.